Asia

Japan starts weekend early to improve work-life balance

  • Office workers of Tokyo area toast during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

    Office workers of Tokyo area toast during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, center top, poses for photo with President of Mitsubishi Jisho Residence Hirotaka Sugiyama, top left and other office workers during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

    Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, center top, poses for photo with President of Mitsubishi Jisho Residence Hirotaka Sugiyama, top left and other office workers during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Office workers of Tokyo area drink during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

    Office workers of Tokyo area drink during a "Premium Friday" event in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. The event to mark the launching of "Premium Friday," a joint project or concept endorsed by public and private sectors to promote work life balance as well as to revitalize economy by encouraging companies and workers to finish work at 1500 in the afternoon on every last Friday of the month. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)  (The Associated Press)

Some workers in Japan are enjoying an early start to their weekend under a new initiative to encourage a better work-life balance.

Company and government offices were encouraged to let employees leave at 3 p.m. on Friday. The early end to the day is dubbed "Premium Friday," and is supposed to happen on the last Friday of every month.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (Koh-ee-keh) led about 100 office workers in a champagne toast as the clock struck three at a cafe in the Japanese capital's central business district. She said it would be wonderful if the initiative changes the way people work.

Bars, restaurants, stores and travel agents are among those hoping that it will also stimulate spending by consumers.